pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)
During the past few days I've been editing the fic I've written this year, and last night I came to the conclusion that I'm a bad writer. Like, I am not a good writer, and I'm not good at writing - which is to say that I have neither talent nor skill. I mean, I'm not going to stop writing, but there's really no point in me taking it as seriously as I have been.

You know what I am good at, though? Surfing.

Fuck this "working hard" shit, I am going to Hawai'i. I've got some friends who've been pestering me to visit, and I owe myself a nice long weekend of sitting on the beach while eating shrimp and reading other people's fic for once.

And maybe I'll get drunk on the plane (as one does) and write another cracktastic Peach/Bowser story, that might be fun too.
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
I'm having a small crisis of faith, so I'd like to affirm something in a semi-public space – it's always okay to gently push back against expressions of racism. Even if it's casual or unintentional. Even if you know the person will react poorly. Even if you're white. Even if this doesn't end all racism for everyone forever. You're not overthinking things, and you're not overreacting; you're just trying to make the space around you a little safer and more comfortable for other people to occupy, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I am overwhelmed with rage sometimes, but I think the key point is "gently." Sometimes people just need time to think and process things, and nobody is going to be receptive to being attacked.

The issue I often face, however, is that the person I'm trying to talk with isn't American, and sometimes they may not be completely fluent in English. They might not understand why I care so much, or perhaps my response is too "gentle" for them to understand that what I'm taking an issue with is an expression of racism, not the expression of their personal opinion.

I therefore have a weird kind of racism offsetting system – for every time I let things go instead of exploding in violent anger, I'll back an artist's Kickstarter so that their work can help to counter the broader situation of injustice in a more productive and meaningful way. I could just be deluding myself by thinking that this is in any way effective, but hey, more art and comics and stories in the world isn't such a bad secondary goal.
pocketseizure: (Terra Branford)
The cherry trees are in full bloom in DC.

It's so beautiful that it's obscene.

Today the weather is warm, overcast, and windy, and the falling cherry petals are like swirling snow. This afternoon while walking home from work I was crying, it was so gorgeous.

People complain about how district "gardening budgets" contribute to the high city taxes, but honestly bros every penny is so totally worth it.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore...

Read more... )
pocketseizure: (Cecil Palmer)
My ultimate goal of being "successful" on Tumblr is to edit a fanzine. I think it would also be cool to be able to organize small online events like a reverse big bang or a kiriban contest. I have all the resources necessary to do these things, but I don't have the social capital – or the personal confidence.

A viable halfway goal might be to host an informal meet-up at Otakon this summer. Because just sitting around and talking would be awkward, there would need to be some sort of activity. What I'm thinking is something along the lines of "let's draw our favorite Zelda characters from memory," which would be exactly what it sounds like: I would get to the convention center early, stake out a relatively isolated corner, and sit down underneath a poster announcing what I was doing. I would bring a lot of clipboards, stock paper, and art supplies with me, and I would use a scanner app on everyone's drawings, which I would then post to Tumblr. Since this would take place on the grounds of a large convention, it wouldn't matter if my announcement posts on Tumblr didn't get any attention, as most people who dropped by would be randos anyway.

I think it might also be useful to join some sort of drawing group. I'm not sure if this is still the case, but several of the comic book stores in Philadelphia used to routinely host artist meet-ups like "drink and draw" nights. I was always too shy to show up to anything like that; but, judging from the anthologies that would occasionally be published by various groups that formed around such spaces, not everyone who attended was a professional artist with a polished style – far from it. Now that the weather is getting nicer, I think it might be worth trying to find a group in DC, and I get the feeling that Fantom Comics in Dupont Circle is probably the strongest lead.
pocketseizure: (Cecil Harvey)
Today is the day. We're all here, and we're leaving to join the march.

From my apartment windows I have seen a steady stream of people of people walking down the sidewalks and streets with signs, parking their bikes and cars and heading for the Metro station.

I can't put my finger on why, but I am afraid. I hope nothing happens.

I mean, that's not true. I want things to happen. What I should say is that I hope no one is physically injured. There are a lot of skinheads still hanging around from yesterday, and I hope nobody takes advantage of the huge crowds gathering today to do something horrific. I hope that good things grow out of this outpouring of positive energy, and that the reactionary backlash against this demonstration is not politically devastating for all of us.

Hope is such a precarious thing.

January 21

Jan. 13th, 2017 08:41 am
pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)
I don't know whether it's because of Steven Universe or Teen Vogue or what

( representation matters )

but a number of my older friends' elementary and middle school aged children have decided that they want to join the march on the National Mall next Saturday. Since I happen to be conveniently located, it looks like I'm going to be hosting between fifteen and twenty people in my apartment. I ordered some Blu Ray movies for the kids, bought $500 worth of alcohol for the adults, and made reservations at two restaurants, a choux crème delivery service, and a taxi company. I also went to an art supply store to buy poster board, paint, glitter, and poles.

Political activism isn't always fun, but there's no reason it can't be. I think political activism should be about people coming together and finding solidarity in friendship and community, and that parents should absolutely bring their tween girls and boys to political rallies if the kids ask them to. We're going to take pictures of each other and put them all over social media while smiling and looking fabulous as we turn out to protest fascism for all we're worth, and it is going to be awesome.
pocketseizure: (Terra Branford)
This May I have to go to Paris for a work thing. On the last day of the year I booked my flight and Airbnb, and yesterday I made a reservation for a car so that I can drive down to the city of Saint-Émilion, whose stone walls, medieval streets, and labyrinthine wine cellars served as the inspiration for Leá Monde, the setting of Vagrant Story.

In June I have to supervise a project in Akita prefecture in the north of Japan. I haven't yet made those travel arrangements, but I'm thinking about taking the opportunity to spend five or six days in Tokyo. I'll probably stay in Ikebukuro, which is in many ways the inspiration for the city of Rabanastre.

I work hard, and I deserve a nice vacation in Ivalice.
pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)
I'd really like to draw fan art for my friends. I suck at drawing, but I'm trying to get better. The way I've been doing this is to draw things over and over while attempting to build stamina and figure out how light works. The more I work on perspective and shading, though, the more I realize how much I love flatness as an aesthetic. Still, even if I intend to keep my designs and colors super flat, it would be nice to have a better grasp of anatomy and action lines.

In any case I'm worried about offending people by drawing shitty garbage. Last year I gradually became friendly with two artists on Tumblr, and over the summer I sent them postcards from Japan with sketchy doodles of characters from their comics. After that both of them stopped talking to me, true story. Art is hard, but friendship is harder.
pocketseizure: (Cecil Harvey)
I've absorbed a great deal of anger and fear over the past week.

On election day, I volunteered through a small organization to help drive people to and from their local polling stations. People told me stories about their lives and their families and the racist and sexist violence they've had to endure, and it (obviously) wasn't pleasant.

All throughout Wednesday, I volunteered again with the same organization to help drive people to work who didn't feel safe taking public transportation. No one talked much.

On Thursday I returned to my job, where I sat with people who were upset and crying. I also had to deal with a bunch of smug assholes, which was even worse.

Today, finally, I started touching base with friends. People unloaded on me, and it was both terrible and terrifying.

I've been careful not to mention it, but I've been having nightmares and panic attacks almost every day since Trump's candidacy was announced. I knew exactly who would vote for him (this is literally where I grew up), and I would be lying if I said that a part of me didn't always know that he would win.

I know what it's like to occupy a marginal position. I know what it's like to be homeless and imprisoned and beaten and raped. I know what it's like to have no hope for justice. I know what it's like to be constantly afraid of emotional and physical assault. I know what it's like to feel utterly trapped. I know the despair of people telling you to "hang in there" when every day feels like an eternity. I know what it's like to be powerless. I know what this is like because I've experienced it myself, and I don't want to live in a world where this kind of experience is normal.

I've been trying to hang on to some form of hope, but it's impossible. I try to keep telling myself it's going to be okay, but I know that things are going to become progressively less okay as time goes on. I keep telling myself that nothing is going to change in the ongoing struggle against injustice, but things are most definitely going to change. There is very little that I can do, and I'm not sure I have the strength to ride this out.

But I refuse to give up.

That being said, I am not going to write about this anymore.
pocketseizure: (Celes Chere)
I have devoted my life to service, activism, and education.

I don't usually talk about my job under my fandom identity, as it's stressful and unpleasant, but I want to say that the election results last night change nothing. I will continue to struggle for equality, tolerance, and inclusivity. I will continue to push back against discriminatory practices. I will continue to find opportunities for those who need them. There are good people all around me who will do the same.

There is such an outpouring of outrage and sadness on social media this morning. I want to join in and offer my support, but I am so exhausted, and I have no words. I will go in to work and do what I always do, but the most important thing right now is to keep my head above water and not drown. Time will pass, and I will regain the energy I need to speak and to help protect safe spaces in the ongoing project of creating a better world.

It's not going to be easy, but we will not let this defeat us. Stay strong, friends.
pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)
I am fully aware of how narcissistic this is, but recently I've been thinking a lot about why people on Tumblr don't seem to like me.

Generally speaking, my goal is to make the people around me feel happy and appreciated. Or rather, "make them feel" is not quite right; "I'd like them to feel" is closer to what I try to do by sending out positive and supportive vibes. It's hard, though, and I feel like I spend most of my time apologizing. I have so many interactions on Tumblr especially in which I try to be friendly but end up rubbing the other person the wrong way.

There's this idea that, if you keep putting out good work, you will build an audience. I've been posting stories and drawings at a steady rate, and I like to think that the quality of my work has improved, but I seem to have done the opposite of building an audience; there are a lot of people I used to be friendly with who haven't left the fandom but no longer interact with me. I want to put more of myself out there, but I'm so, so afraid. The more people see of me, the less they like me, and the less attention my work receives. I feel like an emotional hypochondriac for perceiving my social interactions on Tumblr like this, but I'm not wrong.

Then again, haters gonna hate.
pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)
For me, friendship is something that takes at least a year of routine contact to develop; and, accordingly, I don't have a lot of friends. I'm a hardcore introvert who would be perfectly happy never interacting with anyone ever, so I wouldn't call myself lonely by any means, but I do miss spending time with friends who are no longer geographically proximate. Since I've had to move (for work, broadly speaking) every one or two years, I don't live close to anyone I've ever been friends with.

There are three people I've recently gotten myself tangled up with online, all of whom I also know in real life. Each of these people seems to be trying to become friends with me. They've exhibited warning signs of not being good friend material, but I didn't have anything else going on during the past year, so I let these things slide.

I generally don't ask anyone for help or expect anyone to understand my personality quirks, so the true test of friendship is for me to ask someone for help (regarding a concrete matter) or to ask that they understand something about me that is not 100% positive (regarding a specific incident). This is a "test" of friendship because it makes me vulnerable; and, because I am thereby making an offering of my vulnerability, there is only one correct response that someone can give in good faith: "Yes, I will try to help you" or "Okay, I will try to understand."

This process isn't actually that big of a deal. To give an example, one of the closest friendships I ever had was with a girl I ended up asking to send me an invitation to AO3. I was like, "Look, you've implied that you write fic. Guess what? I write fic too! Can you send me an AO3 invite?" She was like, "Awesome, no problem," and then we were friends.

After interacting with the three people I mentioned in various ways for almost a year, I threw out a test to each of them. This sounds manipulative – and it is! – but it essentially breaks down to, "If I'm going to begin devoting a substantial portion of my time and emotional energy to you, I need to know that it's worth it, and that you'll have my back instead of being a judgmental asshole." Unfortunately, all three of them failed in exactly the way I suspected they would but sincerely hoped they wouldn't. The person who likes to play power games abused the power she had over me, the person who is extremely neurotic projected her guilt regarding her own neuroses onto me, and the person who routinely makes bizarre assumptions was unable to maintain a linear conversation. The fact that they were unwilling to try to help or understand me really hurt, but I can't very well tell them, "I'm sorry, but we're never going to be friends."

Making friends at my age is super fucking hard, okay. At least my dog is my friend.
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
Yesterday afternoon I took myself to a clothier in downtown DC to get fitted for a bespoke suit. What this entailed was three hours of talking with two stylists and two tailors about fabric and fit and the length between buttons on my vest. The aesthetic I was going for was "1920s mob boss," and they all knew exactly what I was talking about and didn't try to steer me into more feminine fashions.

If you're wondering how much something like this costs, the answer is $1,750.

This is far and away the most expensive cosplay I've ever done, but I'm not entirely sure who I'm trying to cosplay as. An adult version of myself? Who is actually good at her job? And actually has this level of income?

I am so tired. I am so, so tired, all the time.
pocketseizure: (Default)
Being in New Orleans made me think about white trash, specifically my own identity as the scion of a proud family of white trash. My mind keeps returning to the drama involving one of my mother's cousins, Stan Bryant.

Everything I know is based on hearsay, public court records (which are also hearsay), and articles drawn from the local paper (which is mostly hearsay). The only thing I can say with 100% certainty is that Stan Bryant is dead.

Stan Bryant was the son of my maternal grandfather's sister, who I knew as my Aunt Mervyn. When I was a kid, my Aunt Mervyn scared the bejesus out of me, and I later learned that she had schizophrenia. The disease apparently runs in my mom's family. My grandfather's mother, one of my mom's sisters, and another of my mom's cousins had it as well. I used to be worried that I would develop symptoms myself, but I think I turned out okay. In any case, Stan was my Aunt Mervyn's only son, which can't have been easy.

Stan grew up to be a nurse, and he lived in various cities up and down the East Coast. I met him a few times as an adult, and he seemed like a perfectly normal person, if somewhat mild-mannered and overly polite. Apparently, however, he was a serial wife beater. According to one of my uncles, Stan would be a perfect gentleman until a woman married him, at which point he would commence physically and emotionally assaulting her. This abuse would escalate until Stan felt compelled to flee whatever city he was living in so as to escape legal action. In this manner he married and divorced four wives, leaving behind four sons, all named Stan Bryant.

I should probably mention here that "Stan Bryant" is a pseudonym I created. I also want to add that the rest of the story takes place in my hometown in rural Georgia, which I will decline to name. This business gets weird, and I don't want anything to be searchable.

Okay, so. After his most recent divorce, Stan Bryant returned to my hometown. Although he ostensibly came back to help care for his mother, Stan didn't move back in with her. I believe Aunt Mervyn was supported with funds supplied by a trust set up by my grandfather, who had owned land all across the county. He built houses on some of this land; and, after he died, he left various properties to members of the family. Stan was living in one of these houses, which he legally owned. I'm not sure if he was working, but we later found out that he certainly wasn't paying taxes.

Regardless, Stan started dating a woman named Tammy (also a pseudonym) who had no legal residence of her own and promptly moved in with him. It turns out that Stan had finally met his match, as Tammy was more than a little unstable herself. The two didn't wait to get married before launching into a series of increasingly violent altercations, the last of which ended in Stan getting shot in the face.

The official account is that Stan threatened Tammy with a gun and then, filled with self-loathing and mortification, committed suicide by shooting himself. It's important to note, however, that Stan never owned a gun, and the gun was registered in Tammy's name. Tammy also happened to be dating the county sheriff, who was the first person to appear on the scene after the incident.

Because my Aunt Mervyn was not of sound mind, the management of Stan's estate was overseen by my mother and her two brothers, all three of whom are lawyers. They jointly handled the legal proceedings and unilaterally claimed that the formal investigation of Stan's death was off-the-charts bizarre. Because none of them felt compelled to antagonize the sheriff, however, they let the matter slide. Who knows what actually happened?

Tammy sued the estate for Stan's house; but, as soon as it came to light that Stan owed tens of thousands of dollars of back taxes, she decided that she wasn't so interested after all. Instead of declaring bankruptcy on the estate and washing their hands of the whole affair, my mother and uncles decided that they would rent out Stan's house. The person who they hired to clean the place apparently found things that deeply upset him, and he started spreading stories that the house was haunted. In the end, the only person who would rent it was a Vietnam War veteran living on disability checks.

It initially seemed that this man was a perfect tenant. He paid his rent on time, kept to himself, and didn't cause trouble. Unfortunately, his neighbor's wife, who my mother charmingly refers to as "the town bicycle," had a crush on him, and he presumably ended up sleeping with her. Her husband, in a fit of jealous rage, reported to the sheriff that the man was using his military connections to run a drug cartel. The veracity of this accusation is debatable (and highly dubious), but the sheriff decided to investigate anyway. What he found in the woods behind the house were two perfectly maintained growhouses in which the tenant had been cultivating marijuana. The sheriff confiscated the plants (I bet he did) and put the man in jail. Since then the house has been empty. I'm still not sure who's doing what about the taxes on the property; but, as long as my mother doesn't get shot in the face herself, I'll probably never find out.

Meanwhile, the incident allowed Tammy to receive disability compensation, which she used to buy a house of her own. She also managed to acquire a commercial property that's been unoccupied since I was a kid, and she was recently granted a license to convert it into an animal shelter. The officer who heads the local Animal Control was extremely upset about this; she had prohibited Tammy from setting foot onto the grounds of all the animal shelters in the county years ago because Tammy had been adopting cats and selling them on eBay. As a compromise, the Magistrate's Office restricted Tammy's shelter license to a maximum residential capacity of twenty-five cats.

So the end result of Stan Bryant's strange life and stranger death is Neko Atsume. If this were a story, I suppose it would have a more fitting conclusion, but I couldn't make this up if I tried.

The world is a weird place.
pocketseizure: (Cecil Harvey)
I have found my way to New Orleans, and it is unpleasant.

I haven't been here since Katrina, when I was trying to get over a shitty breakup and for some reason decided that I would go be a hero and join the relief operations. It was a miserable experience, because of course it was.

The city is still a mess. It resembles Philadelphia in its state of flagrant urban disrepair, except one does not go to Philadelphia expecting charm, so the breakdown of public infrastructure is all the more apparent here. There's still a lot of storm damage, with derelict houses abandoned and boarded up right in the middle of residential neighborhoods. The paving on many of the smaller streets might as well be cobblestones. A lot of the major streets have been torn up by the city and then just left that way, with their chain link fences rusting and orange traffic safety cones bleached almost yellow. Water doesn't drain, and after it rained for an hour yesterday several of the main avenues became swamps.

Although hey, at least it's not Baltimore.

I'm here for work, and I have been put up in a bed and breakfast that I think is supposed to be quaint and historic, but it kind of creeps me out. I come from an area in rural Georgia that has its fair share of dilapidated Queen Anne houses with high ceilings and plantation shutters. My father lives in a house like this, as did many of my friends growing up. Where I come from, these houses are for poor people, as they're old and cheap and dirty. These are the sort of houses where people hoard newspapers and use large black trashbags as curtains; the plumbing doesn't work, there's never enough light, and the second and third floors are filled with literal piles of moldy "antique" furniture no one cleans or uses because the staircases are dangerous.

The owners of the bed and breakfast are white, and they are welcoming and genteel and speak in softly accented English, but all their employees are black and speak in Creole patois. This is also historic, I guess.

It was my New Year's Resolution to visit New Orleans, and I have accomplished that resolution. I want to go home now.
pocketseizure: (Ganondorf)
This past Thursday was intense. I woke up, checked my email, and immediately got two gut punches.

The first was an aggressive comment left by a libertarian friend of mine on the article that had run on the gaming site. This friend (who is otherwise a decent guy) is a child of immigrant parents who worked hard to make it in life, and the hardships he's endured have engendered an attitude toward the world that might be summarized as "society doesn't owe anyone anything." His comment was along the lines of "I don't understand why we should care about diversity," which the site editors for some reason decided to approve. There was nothing particularly offensive about the comment, but every time I have to politely explain that increased accessibility hurts literally no one a baby octopus loses its tentacles.

The second was a ridiculous bit of unsolicited concrit on AO3 left by a random stranger who began his comment with the statement that he found one of my stories by means of 4chan. The way he structured this comment was so bizarre, like, "I know that people generally don't like concrit, but I love it, so I'm going to point out something obvious that you probably already know is a problem." When I (stupidly) replied to him to say that I indeed wasn't looking for concrit and that the element of the story he didn't like was a conscious thematic decision, he responded with almost stereotypical sad panda gaslighting, saying that I failed to understand him and that he was only trying to help, why did I make such negative assumptions about him, etc.

To recover a bit of emotional energy before I went to work, I got on the "Wind Waker" tag on Tumblr, which is a happy place for me filled with cute art and screenshots. Apparently the not-quite-troll from Tumblr was not done, however, as she'd used the tag to distribute a number of posts that, although they didn't mention me directly, were obviously mean-spirited reactions to specific meta I've written about the game. Stumbling across these posts was unpleasant, of course, but it was my fault for not blocking her. After I took care of that, I returned to my main Tumblr dash to find that mutual friends had reblogged other things she'd posted, meaning that they read through all of her attacks against me, shrugged, and continued to engage with her. As my libertarian friend might say, no one owes anyone anything, but I was still hurt.

These days I'm feeling unwelcome everywhere I go.

In the real world, I worry about money and feel poor all the time, but online I'm treated like some sort of wealthy capitalist apologist because I no longer live in poverty. In the real world, I have to deal with the consequences of cultural homophobia and queer panic every day, but online I'm treated like some sort of het oppressor because I'm not a gold star lesbian. In the real world, I'm constantly made to feel like I'm not intelligent or qualified enough, but online I'm treated as if I'm ostentatiously flaunting ill-gained knowledge. In the real world, I routinely get forced into acutely vulnerable positions because of my protests against specific instances of institutional racism and racist discourses, but online I'm treated as if I'm a white supremacist for writing about nonwhite characters.

Aside from completely abjuring all future human interaction, the only way to deal with this sort of nonsense is to carry on as if it doesn't affect me, but I want to say for the record that it isn't easy.
pocketseizure: (Teh Bowz)
My job isn't that weird; it's not unique or special, as I am not unique or special. Nevertheless, every year I have to pay a professional accountant several hundred dollars to do my taxes. My income is derived from multiple sources, and I work out of multiple offices across multiple states. Since I'm a big fan of public services like roads and running water, I don't mind paying taxes, but since I've moved to DC city taxes have become a problem. After filing my taxes this year, I had to go to the central tax office and give them a certified check for $2000, which is a painful amount of money for me (as I would assume it is for most people). This extra tax isn't because I work in DC; it's because I live here.

It's so bizarre to me that, regardless of my actual income or property holdings, I have to pay so much for the privilege of living in proximity to human civilization. Young people (by which I mean people born after 1980) can't really afford to buy houses in the suburbs, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to live in the city. What are we supposed to do, exactly?

Still, the dogwoods and cherry trees are in full bloom, the weather is a perfect 72 degrees, recreational marijuana is legal, the outside patios of bars and cafés and filled with attractive and nicely dressed people, and I suppose I can take on a few more freelance projects.
pocketseizure: (Needs More Zelda)
A few weekends ago I got very drunk with a handful of writers and somehow found myself in a debate over who was lower in the geek hierarchy, furries or steampunk nerds. Because I was already three sheets to the wind by that point, I gave an impassioned defense of steampunk, which in all honesty I barely remember. One thing led to another, and I got asked to organize a panel on steampunk at a certain nascent technology-focused pop culture convention here in DC. If successful, the panel would more than likely become an exhibition at the federally funded museum organizing the convention.

I was like, Hahaha, okay, no.

Because the Metro was shut down yesterday (something about fires burning underground), I had the rare pleasure of working in the DC office, so one of the museum curators walked over and twisted my arm – and by "twisted my arm," I mean "bought me a few beers." I'm not entirely sure if I'm going to be paid for any of this, and I'm fairly certain I'm going to have major regrets later, but I ended up agreeing.

Who knows, maybe I won't have a nervous breakdown, that would be nice.
pocketseizure: (Gator Strut)
Yesterday I went to a cosmetic surgeon to fix my face.

The experience wasn't that bad, and there was no weird medical gaslighting. I went in, and I was like, "I have scar tissue all down my right cheek." The doctor was like, "You sure do. Give me thirty minutes and I'll have it taken care of." There was no "have you tried drinking more water" or any such bullshit, which was refreshing.

While he and the nurse were working, the doctor explained what he was doing, in the process giving me an overview of facial muscles and skin structure. I steered the conversation to the topic of what constitutes beauty, and he started talking about symmetry and asymmetry. To make a long story short, for substantially less than the cost of a month's rent and about a week's worth of healing time, I could make my face subtly but tangibly different. The whole thing felt very posthuman, like I was doing character customization on myself.

Since my face ended up bloody and bandaged and bruised, I took the rest of the day off from work. I walked down to Rock Creek Park, where I sat on a bench and chain smoked and watched the beefcake Secret Service people jog by as I thought about what my life would be like if I were less unattractive.

It's a shame I can't just pay someone to fix my garbage personality.

Charm City

Mar. 6th, 2016 11:20 am
pocketseizure: (Cecil Harvey)
Yesterday I drove to Baltimore to go to Atomic Books, which is about a mile west of Johns Hopkins in a historic residential neighborhood called Hampden. I had been involved with an event at Atomic Books in the spring of 2013 and gotten a few drinks afterward at a nearby bar, and I remembered the area being filled with young people and looking like it was on the rise.

I don't know what happened since then, but the entire city of Baltimore is a nightmare. The roads are destroyed, with huge potholes and long runs of stripped pavement. The sidewalks are broken and melted, as if they had been firebombed. There are literal open sewers, by which I mean pits dug into the earth to expose the half-open pipes and tunnels without any safety barriers surrounding them. City utility vehicles are abandoned with broken windows and slashed tires at the ends of blocked-off streets. At least one house on every block is clearly derelict. I saw multiple dead animals, including cats and dogs. One might argue that all major cities in the northeast are like this immediately after the snow melts, but there hasn't been any snow on the ground since early February.

Atomic Books, which specializes in comics and zines, was bustling with people (perhaps some sort of brunch crowd) who seemed to be about as old as I am. They looked like me, dressed like me, talked with my accent, and probably share many of my interests... except they live in Baltimore. Like, I could go home, but they can't – that is their home.

The entire experience served as an unsettling reminder of the precarity of my own situation. I'm happy and comfortable in a beautiful apartment in a beautiful neighborhood in the beautiful city of Washington DC, but if anything goes wrong then I'm not certain that I can afford to stay here. Baltimore isn't that far away, geographically or financially, and that chills me to the bone.

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